Virginia “Ginger” L. McKee Henderson, 98, widow of LTC Frederic M. Henderson (Ret. Army), passed away on Friday, May 14, 2021, in Bristol, Connecticut. She formerly lived in Indian Harbour Beach, Florida; she relocated to Connecticut in 2019.
Ginger was born March 25, 1923, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the late Dr. Carlisle E. and Ethel (Sutmeyer) McKee. She attended Linden Hall Junior College and transferred to the Univ. of Arizona, where she met her future husband in 1940. The couple were married in Ft. Benning, Georgia on Dec. 11, 1942, where Fred completed his training in Officer Candidate School. From the moment of their marriage, Ginger began her role as a military wife, and later, mother, supporting her growing family and Fred’s developing career in OSS, Military Intelligence, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Throughout her husband’s career, Ginger raised her children, adjusting to his numerous tours of duty in the U.S. and Europe, including Germany, Italy, and Spain. In the late 1940’s, Ginger worked for the Dept. of Army and then the CIA. In 1973, she retired from the CIA as a reports officer after serving over 30 loyal years to the high ideals and traditions of Federal Service. Even at the time of her death, Ginger was an active member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO – Satellite Coast Chapter) and Central Intelligence Retiree Association (CIRA). After retiring, Ginger and Fred lived in Spain, finally settling in Florida; they were married for 69 years until his passing in 2012.
In addition to her career, Ginger was a gifted artist. She enjoyed oil painting and watercolors, though her favorite medium was creating murals and artwork using mosaics. She exhibited her designs in art guilds and designed customized mosaic work in homes and churches in the Satellite Beach area. Ever a daughter of Pittsburgh, she was an avid fan of the Steelers and Pirates, always cheering for the black and gold. Ginger was a voracious reader enjoying mystery novels, WW II historical accounts of clandestine operations, and action thrillers.
Ginger was most proud of her children for she loved them unconditionally, whole-heartedly supporting their interests and dreams. Described as a gentle role model with an air of confidence, invincible spirit, and optimism, held within a wonderful sense of humor. Ginger will be missed by all, and forgotten by none whom she touched with her beautiful light. Ginger is survived by her six children: Virginia Corris of Phoenix, AZ, Elissa Henderson of Tampa, FL, Brian C. McKee Henderson (Vivian) of New York, NY, Gina Cosgrove (James) of Trumbull, CT, Maria Henderson of Satellite Beach, FL, and Claudia V. Henderson of Bristol, CT; her 12 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Memorial mass will be held Friday, May 28, 2021, at 11:30 a.m. at St. Matthew R.C. Church in Forestville, CT. Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery in the near future.
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